Linda Cole and Joshua Bowlus: What a Wonderful World

C. Michael Bailey By

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Yes...that Cole Family. The same talent pool that gave us Nat "King" Cole and Freddy Cole has also given us Linda Cole (a daughter of the brothers Cole's cousin). Linda Cole teams with pianist/arranger Joshua Bowlus and his quartet for a breezy stroll through 13 pieces from the Cole Family songbook and beyond. Globally, Bowlus supplies fresh arrangements, making these chestnuts new again without polishing away their nostalgic sepia tone.

Bowlus favors a relaxed slow-tempo swing that proves to be both commanding and bluesfull. "Frim Fram Sauce" is given a opium-languid treatment punctuated with a New Orleans march in the trumpeter Alphonso Horne's solo section. NKC's famous "Mona Lisa" has a delicate Latin-Caribbean beat seasoned with Bowlus' tart block chord comping. Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train" is slightly deconstructed rhythmically, revealing the song's sturdy harmonic underpinnings. Bowlus' rolling solo maintains an anxious swing that gives way to Horne's assertive improvisation. Cole approaches the song with the same spirit of deconstructions, spilling staccato lines over her craggy support.

"Straighten Up and Fly Right" and "Smak Dab in the Middle" rock in rhythm while "East of the Sun (West of the Moon) is transformed into a post-bop ballad featuring an elastic bass attack by Billy Thornton. Bowlus duets with Thornton during his trio-break solo. The closing title tune is a stylistic chance Cole takes with an iconic tune. Bowlus plays cautiously spare in support of Cole's most expressive delivery. The piece is a wonder of arrangement where every creative element coheres into a seamless whole. A fitting conclusion for a fine recital.

Track Listing

I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter; Is You Is or Is You Ain't (My Baby); Cheek to Cheek; Frim Fram Sauce; I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face; Mona Lisa; Take the 'A' Train; .Night and Day; Straighten Up and Fly Right; Everything Happens to Me; East of the Sun (West of the Moon); Smack Dab in the Middle; What a Wonderful World.


Linda Cole: vocals; Joshua Bowlus: piano; Billy Thorton: bass; Ben Adkins: drums; Alphonso Horne: trumpet.

Additional information

Title: What a Wonderful World | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


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